Alberta Water Legislation



Riparian Rights System


This system entails giving any landowner with water adjacent to their property the right to make reasonable use of it.

North West Irrigation Act


This act allowed the government to allocate water for irrigation and other uses. If an applicant could demonstrate proper use of water, an administrative paper was issued to that person and/or business. Rights to water that were to be allocated worked under a priority system at this time that was based on the seniority of the licence. Senority meaning the older the license, the higher the priority. This system is referred to as the FITFIR, First In Time First In Right. This is still used by the Alberta government today and can be seen in the Water Act

Boundary Waters Treaty


Governs international waters that flow between Canada and the U.S.A. An International Joint Commission was established to monitor compliance and deal with disputes. In 2004 the commission established the International St. Mary/ Milk Rivers Administrative Measures Task Force to deal with the sharing of the Milk and St. Mary Rivers.

Natural Resource Transfer Agreement



Water use became the Government of Alberta’s legislation and no longer the Dominion of Canada’s.

Water Resources Act



An act that dealt primarily with the allocation of water.

Master Agreement on Apportionment


This agreement involves the government of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Canada in dealing with sharing the waters of eastward flowing interprovincial streams. The agreement also reconizes water quality and groundwater concerns. There are five schedules that are part of the master agreement. Schedule A, C, D and E relate to Alberta. A- The Apportionment Agreement between Alberta and Saskatchewan. The sharing of waters of eastward flowing streams (including Cold River, Beaver River, North Saskatchewan River, Battle River, Eyehill Creek, South Saskatchewan River, Boxelder Creek, Battle Creek, Middle Creek and Lodge Creek) between Alberta and Saskatchewan is governed by Schedule A of the Master Agreement On Apportionment. Simply states that Alberta has rights equal to one half of the waterflow into Saskatchewan. C- The Prairie Provinces Water Board Agreement describing the composition, functions and duties of the Board, D- A listing of Orders-in-Council for allocations of interprovincial waters made before 1969, E-A Water Quality Agreement. This Schedule became part of the Master Agreement in 1992.

The Water Act


A review was conducted over the current water legislation as well as reviewing and comparing other legislations over water elsewhere in the world. This brought about new legislation.

The Water Act


The Water Act is now one of the main legislations dealing with the way water is used, allocated, managed and conserved in Alberta. It recognizes the need of planning and enforcement to protect Alberta’s water as well as manage it properly. The current Act has been revised as of January 1, 1999.

View the full Act here.

Water for Life Action Plan

2003, Revised in 2008

The Water for Life Action Plan is a 10-year plan for the government and other agencies involved in water. The strategy is based on safeguarding water sources and accelerating the agencies actions.

The complete Water for life Action Plan can be seen here

Alberta Water Council


Is a multi-stakeholder partnership with 24 members from industry, Non-governmental Organizations, government, Government of Alberta and Provincial Authorities.

Complete list of member of the Alberta Water Council

Alberta Environmental and Protection Act

Last revised 2009

The legislation that guides Alberta municipal water systems falls under the EPEA, Alberta law enforces that all Alberta water systems are to be constructed by Alberta Environment design standards and operated by Alberta government standards. Under EPEA , the department regulates industrial and municipal discharges to surface waters, and approvals are required.

View full Act here

Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity (CEP)

To be completed by 2015

Is part of the Water for Life Strategy and is a plan to prepare water conservation and productivity for water using sectors. Improve efficiency and productivity of water use by 30 per cent from 2005 by 2015. Also CEP will establish an on-going monitor system to ensure 2013/2014 is achieving water conversation and productivity objectives.

View full Act here